Brethren Archive
Psalm 39: 7

“What Wait I For?”

by C.H. Mackintosh

This is a searching question for the heart, but it is oftentimes a most necessary one, inasmuch as we may constantly detect ourselves in an attitude of waiting for things which, when they come, prove not to be worth waiting for.

The human heart is very much like the poor lame man at the gate of the temple in Acts 3. He was looking at every passerby “expecting to receive something.” And the heart will ever be looking out for some relief, some comfort or some enjoyment in passing circumstances. It may be found sitting by the side of some creaturestream, vainly expecting some refreshment to flow along its channel.

It is amazing to think of the trifles on which nature will fix its expectant gaze — a change of circumstances, change of scene, a journey, a visit, a letter, a book. Anything is sufficient to raise expectations in a poor heart which is not finding its center, its spring, its all, in Christ.

Hence the practical importance of frequently turning sharp round upon the heart with the question, “What wait I for?” Doubtless, the true answer to this enquiry would at times furnish the most advanced Christian with matter for deep humiliation and selfjudgment before the Lord.

In Psalm 39: 6 we have three great types of character as set forth in the “vain show,” “vain disquietude” and “heaping up.” These types may sometimes be found combined, but very often they have a distinct development.

There are many whose whole life is one “vain show,“ whether in their personal character, their commercial position, their political or religious profession. There is nothing solid about them, nothing real, nothing true. The glitter is the most shallow gilding possible. There is nothing deep, nothing intrinsic. All is surface work — all the merest flash and smoke.

Then we find another class whose life is one continued scene of “vain disquietude.” You will never find them at ease — never satisfied, never happy. There is always some terrible thing coming — some catastrophe in the distance, the mere anticipation of which keeps them in a constant fever of anxiety. They are troubled about property, about friends, about trade, about children, about servants. Though placed in circumstances which thousands of their fellowcreatures would deem most enviable, they seem to be in a perpetual fret. They harass themselves in reference to troubles that may never come, difficulties they may never encounter, sorrows they may never live to see. Instead of remembering the blessings of the past and rejoicing in the mercies of the present, they are anticipating the trials and sorrows of the future. In a word, “they are disquieted in vain.”

Finally, you will meet another class, quite different from either of the preceding — keen, shrewd, industrious, money-making people who would live where others would starve. There is not much “vain show” about them. They are too solid, and life is too practical a reality for anything of that sort. Neither can you say there is much disquietude about them. Theirs is an easy-going, quiet, plodding spirit, or an active, enterprising, speculating turn of mind. “They heap up, and know not who shall gather.”

But remember, on all three alike the Spirit has stamped “vanity.” Yes, “all” without any exception, “under the sun,” has been pronounced by one who knew it by experience and wrote it by inspiration, “vanity and vexation of spirit.” Turn where you will “under the sun” and you will not find anything on which the heart can rest. You must rise on the steady and vigorous pinion of faith to regions “above the sun,” to find “a better and an enduring substance.” The One who sits at the right hand of God has said, “I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: that I may cause them that love Me to inherit substance, and I will fill their treasures” (Prov. 8: 20-21). None but Jesus can give “substance.” None but He can “fill.” None but He can “satisfy.” There is that in Christ's perfect work which meets the deepest need of conscience. There is that in His glorious Person which can satisfy the most earnest longings of the heart. The one who has found Christ on the cross and Christ on the throne, has found all he can possibly need for time or eternity.

Well might the psalmist, having challenged his heart with the question, “What wait I for?” reply, “My hope is in Thee.” No “vain show,” no “vain disquietude,” no “heaping up” for him. He had found an object in God worth waiting for. Therefore, turning away his eye from all beside, he says, “My hope is in Thee.”

This, my beloved reader, is the only true, peaceful and happy position. The soul that leans on, looks to, and waits for Jesus will never be disappointed. Such an one possesses an exhaustless fund of present enjoyment in fellowship with Christ. At the same time he is cheered by “that blessed hope” that when this present scene, with all its “vain show,” its “vain disquietude” and its vain resources shall have passed away, he shall be with Jesus where He is, to behold His glory, to bask in the light of His countenance and to be conformed to His image forever.

May we, then, be much in the habit of challenging our earthbound, creatures-seeking hearts with the searching enquiry, “What wait I for?” Am I waiting for some change of circumstances or “for the Son from heaven?” Can I look up to Jesus and with a full and an honest heart, say, “Lord, my hope is in Thee?”

May we be more thoroughly separated from this present evil world and all that pertains thereto, by the power of communion with those things that are unseen and eternal.

“From various cares my heart retires,
Though deep and boundless its desires,
I'm now to please but One;
He before whom the elders bow, With Him is all my business now,
And with the souls that are His own.

“With these my happy lot is cast,
Through the world's deserts rude and waste,
Or through its gardens fair;
Whether the storms of trouble sweep,
Or all in dead supineness sleep,
Still to go on be my whole care.”

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